The Australian government last night revealed its federal budget for 2017.
While there were measures we expected such as support for housing affordability, a tax on the banks, education reforms and spending on infrastructure, there were others that took us by surprise.
Here they are.
A levy on avocados
While small, the levy of 0.1 cents per kilogram of fresh avocados, is likely to come at the dismay of millennials who spend $22 on their smashed avocado toast and so can’t afford to buy a house.
It was also joined by a banana levy in response to the Panama disease outbreak.
A tax on ‘rollies’
The government has increased the tax on “roll your own” (RYO) cigarettes to equalise taxation on tobacco.
It is expected to deliver an additional $360 million in revenue over four years to 2020.
A visa to let citizens bring their foreign-born parents to Australia
The temporary sponsored parent visa will begin in November 2017, with 15,000 visas available annually.
It will allow the parents of Australians to stay in Australia for periods of up to three or five years, and is estimated to cost $99 million over four years.
A fund to make sure politicians don’t cheat on their parliamentary expenses
Australians will have to pay $13.2 million — which works out at nearly $59,000 per politician — to ensure politicians spend taxpayers money accurately.
It comes after the scandal involving former health minister Sussan Ley in January.
An investigation to find out if the chemical in your non-stick pan is bad for your health
The money will go to the establishment of a National Research Program, which is undoubtedly inspired by contamination around the Williamstown RAAF base near Newcastle, New South Wales.
A payment for Australian victims of terrorism overseas
$2.3 million will be given to Australian victims of terrorism overseas for terrorist attacks between 2001 and 2015 in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Tunisia and the Middle East.
The establishment of parenting management hearings
The government will provide $12.7 million over four years from 2017-18 to establish Parenting Management Hearings — a new forum for resolving family law disputes between self-represented litigants.
The hearings are designed to be a fast, informal, non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanism for matters which would otherwise require consideration by the family law courts.
A mentoring program for apprentices
$60 million over two years from 2017-18 will go to establishing an industry specialised mentoring service.
The program will support 45,000 Australian apprentices and trainees in order to improve completion rates and support the supply of skilled workers in industries undergoing structural change.
A law to make sure we know who specifically is behind political messages
The government will provide $8.3 million over four years from 2017-18 to enhance the laws around the authorisation of public political communication.
“Political parties, candidates and others involved in political communication will be required to put their name to a greater range of political communication, to increase the awareness of voters about who is trying to influence their vote,” reads the budget papers.
The changes will also prevent individuals or organisations from impersonating a government body.
A ban on cosmetic testing on animals
A ban on cosmetic testing on animals in Australia will be implemented at a cost of $2.1 million over two years from 2017-18.
The funds will also go to developing a voluntary industry code of practice to standardise claims on labels.
A boost in funding of medical research to fight childhood cancer
The government plans to fast track two new international collaborations of clinical trials of paediatric brain cancer
It move will be bolstered by $1.4 million over four years from 2017-18.
Cancer Australia will also receive $4.4 million over three years from 2017-18 to increase Australia’s capacity to diagnose, treat, manage and conduct research into childhood cancer.
Funding to get Australia ahead in space research
The government wants Australia to get ahead in international competitiveness in space and astronomy enabled research. To do so it will invest $120 million over 11 years from 2017-18 to maintain the country’s capability in optical astronomy.
As part of this, Australia will become a strategic partner with the European Southern Observatory for 10 years from January 1, 2018.
Boosting the national medical stockpile
Australia’s national medical stockpile is a strategic reserve for use in response to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event.
In this year’s budget the government has allocated $85.4 million over three years from 2017-18 to replenish its holdings of medicines, vaccines and antidotes.
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